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How to give a thoughtful gift to anyone

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Pin for finding the perfect gift for anyone on your list.

This guide on how to give a thoughtful gift to anyone will give you the tools to find the perfect gift for anyone on your list!

During the holiday season, or even birthdays, we will need to find meaningful gifts for people we adore.

This can get tricky when you want to come up with the very best gift, but sometimes we just have a hard time finding the perfect present.

Even if gift giving isn’t one of your love languages, you can still think up a perfect present for that special someone (or someones!)

First we will discuss how to narrow down your search, and work with the nature of a person to find some great gift ideas. Towards the end of this post I’ll share some big tips for what NOT to gift someone you want to bless. 

Why do we want to give gifts to people? 

Because we want to love on the ones that make our lives beautiful and fun. 

If you’re looking for a gift for someone and it feels like a chore or drudgery, I would encourage you to stop and reassess. Maybe the gift giving could be switched to a different experience that everyone would enjoy. 

The most thoughtful gifts don’t usually result from a stressed-out person acting in obligation to a social rule that no one agreed to. 

Gifts of great magnitude or gifts of smaller proportion.

The first thing is to decide if you want it to be a bigger gift or a modest-sized gift.

a large gift on left and small gift on right, both wrapped in gold paper tied with black ribbons.

There’s a huge difference between what we spend on our kids at Christmas, and what we give to the Sunday School teachers. This is a great place to start because it will narrow down your search dramatically.

There are some instances where an extravagant gift just wouldn’t feel appropriate. Think about how you would feel receiving a gift from this specific person, and aim for something in that range. 

Sometimes smaller is better when it comes to gift-giving, especially if you’re not sure if they will be reciprocating a gift. If your gift was kept in a certain modest range, it won’t feel awkward if they don’t give you one in return. 

We should never expect a gift in return anyway! 

Working with the nature of the gift recipients

The next thing to consider when finding a perfect present for someone is: what is the nature of this person?

Sometimes we can find ourselves thinking, “What would I like if I were them?” 

I would encourage you, instead, to say, “What do they really like?”

woman in the bushes spying with binoculars.

Pay close attention to this person for a while and see what they are excited about.

What are they learning currently?

Do they have a big life change that is going on?

The best way to find useful gifts for someone is to truly pay attention to the details of their life.

Where do they spend most of their time? If they travel for work, maybe you could find a meaningful gift for the inside of the car.

I spend most of my life in the kitchen, so any gift for my kitchen is something I’ll see all the time.

If your person works in an office, you could try to make sweet handmade gifts for their office.

You can’t find thoughtful presents without spending a little time thinking about your gift recipients.

Knowing what someone’s preferences are will include knowing what they really don’t like, or have intolerances to.

Are they avoiding sugar? Do they choose not to drink alcohol? Do they get headaches from strong scented perfume? 

 I know this is easier said than done, so we will talk about a few more ways to think up a good gift idea.

​From my heart to yours

Now, I know I just said not to think of something you’d like if you were them. But sometimes, gifting something you love can be really special.

Make sure this is something they will also love and it’s not just you projecting your wishes on them!

Is there something you both enjoy together?

two people's hands holding tea cups and saucers.

This works well for smaller instances. Maybe you have a beloved new chocolate brand you’ve found, or a flavor of tea they might enjoy.

This will also give you a point of connection, as they try it out and you can have that to get excited about together. (Or they can tell you how they didn’t like it!)

Experiential gifts

Experience gifts have become such a big deal with the rise of minimalism.

This is amazing, because a lot of people already feel like they’re drowning in material possessions.

The hardest part about trying to do experiential gifts is trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules. If you can make it work, it’s such a great way to enrich relationships and make memories.

Experience gifts could be something as big and bold as driving across state lines for a day at a huge water park.

Family walking in the woods outside a small log cabin.

Some families forego the gifts of Christmas morning, and rent a cabin for some really concentrated quality time! They can play board games, make food and spend time making memories together. 

A great experiential gift could be a painting class for all the kids in the family to do together.

It could be as fun and simple as gifting someone a gift card for a restaurant, so they can go out on a date by themselves. 

Don’t underestimate the power of quality time with kids. Kids love to be the recipient of gifts, but they really crave deep connection with the ones they love.

Maybe the kids in your life would love a zoo pass, or tickets to a show that you can take them to. These are the memories they will cherish.

What about a sentimental gift?

If you’re considering a personalized gift, there are a few things I would consider. 

You’re usually going to be supporting a small business in this case, which is absolutely wonderful! 

A personalized gift is a more thoughtful gift, and will convey the extra consideration to the gift recipient. These will be the most unique gifts and will usually make a big impact.

small gift held in person's hands.

They’re typically going to be a smaller gift, because the personalization costs a bit extra. I think most people would say that’s a fair trade!

The downside of giving someone a personalized gift is you really need to know they’re going to love it.

There’s no returning or exchanging a personalized gift. Plus they really won’t be able to re-gift it or donate it.

It has to be a home run.

Consumable gifts are always a good idea

Consumable gifts are a personal favorite of mine. (To receive and to give!)

small gift basket with soaps, lotions, and a brush.

I once had a dear friend give me a big bag of dehydrated mango for my birthday. It was one of the most random gifts, but it was so much fun to get to try something new!

Consumable gifts can also include other things that you will eventually use up and finish, such as: lotion, soap, makeup, paint, craft supplies, etc. 

But hands down, some of the best consumable gifts are sweet treats. Chocolates, caramels, or mints are usually a pretty safe bet for just about anyone. 

Family gifts

This is something that has been a new concept for us, but has been super fun! Whenever a family member has gifted our family with something for us to enjoy, it’s been a great blessing.

If you like the idea of a family gift, it might be something to consider. These, you can usually do a bit bigger, because it’s a joint gift for many people.

people playing scrabble on a wooden coffee table.

You could find some fun board games, puzzles, a favorite book (or books!), and even subscription boxes. 

Once, all the kids in our extended family received a giant lily pad for playing in the water at the lake. It’s been a long time enjoyment for the whole family. The kids have never minded “sharing” this gift, and it’s stood the test of time better than any smaller toy would have. 

Maybe a group gift would be just the thing you’re looking for!

*A quick note on finding great gifts for children. If you’re ever unsure if the gift is a good idea or not, simply ask the parents!

As a parent, it’s always such a nice courtesy to have someone check with me before buying my kids a drum set. (or anything that will affect the whole household!)

Shop local

If you’re looking for a last minute gift for someone, I’d encourage you to shop local. It’s amazing what some local stores will have in stock!

Shopping local is also a beautiful way to bless your community. Odds are, if your gift recipient is also local, they will think it’s even more special that you found their gift locally.

Think about the little shops in your area, and give them a try. Even hardware stores, grocery stores, and drug stores will often have adorable practical gifts for someone on your list.

This might take a little more time to browse around, but it’s totally worth it. 

But when in doubt… give a gift card!

It really is a multi-faceted gift.  I used to feel like giving someone a gift card was like admitting defeat. But, think about how you feel when you GET gift certificates. It’s the best!

Gift cards make the best gifts. Especially when you’re a parent, and would likely just use a cash gift to buy groceries or gas (an admirable use, to be sure.) But there’s something really special about being forced to spend the gift card on yourself.

And the biggest bonus that maybe you didn’t think of… in order to spend a gift card you have to go on a little shopping date. Whenever my kids have received gift cards, we have made some of the most fun memories spending a little bit of time at the store together. 

​Gift certificates can also include services that one wouldn’t normally buy for themselves, such as: a massage, facial, hair cut, pedicure, etc.

pedicure bowl with water and flowers in it.

Don’t underestimate the power of the gift card.

​A few things to avoid when giving a gift.

We’ve all seen the scenes in the silly sitcoms where the mother-in-law is coming over, and the daughter is panicking, trying to find all the gifts they’ve received so they can set them out.

No one wants that for someone they love.

We all want to be good gift givers, without any burden on our people. 

When I first married my husband, I made him a gift basket of movies, snacks, and a snuggly blanket. Now I’ve learned that he rarely watches the same movie more than once… so a pile of DVDs was a really bad gift!

The best way to find an especially thoughtful gift is to pay attention to your people’s lives. (Husbands are just hard, though.)

When giving material gifts, it can be easy to think about checking it off our to-do list. I would also encourage you to think if the gift will bless your person long-term.

If it’s a knick-knack and you know they are already drowning in clutter, then perhaps you should rethink your strategy. 

I’m not saying all material gifts are bad; we all love the excitement of opening a gift! We just don’t want our gift to end up being a burden to someone we love.

Puppy laying behind a wrapped gift.

For instance, you probably won’t want to gift someone a live animal without first making sure they have the bandwidth to properly care for it long-term. (Ask me how I know…)

If your gift recipient has no house plants to speak of, maybe they don’t need you to gift them one.  They may have accidentally killed them all, and don’t want to talk about it.  A better gift might be a fake plant! 

This will look different for every person, but as long as you know a few things about their preferences, you’re going to be able to find a few good presents for anyone on your list!

wooden surface scattered with small wrapped gifts of various sizes and colors.

We all want to be a good gift giver. We just need to ponder a few things about our gift recipient to find what would be a sweet blessing to them in their lives. 

Let me know in the comments some great ways to find fun gifts for anyone on our lists!

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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